The Colts were down 24-14 on the road to the Tennessee Titans on the road, and they needed a spark badly. In the second half, they had gained just nine yards combined on seven plays over three drives, including a turnover. The Titans were on a roll, and the Colts weren't doing anything to stop it.
So that's when punter Pat McAfee took things into his own hands. On to punt from their own 20 yard line, the Colts appeared to have just suffered another three-and-out. But McAfee took off on fourth and 10 and picked up 18 yards on a run to the right, notching a first down. Unfortunately, just three plays later Andrew Luck threw his second interception of the second half, meaning that the team was left with zero points despite McAfee's great run. But that doesn't diminish the spark it provided and what a great play it was.
And, it turns out, it wasn't called that way. Many fans have been asking about it since the play happened, and McAfee spoke with Colts.com's Steve Andress about the play - making it clear that it was him who called the play, not the coaching staff.
"This was a situational thing," McAfee said. "If I happen to get a snap that brings me out of the pocket a little bit and I see that the edge is wide open, I kinda got the green light. And that's talked about probably once in training camp, but if that situation ever pops up, you know you'd better go ahead and get it. But if I don't get it there, I'm probably walking back to a punch in the face from Coach Pagano and Tom McMahon, our special teams coach. Very happy we got it; picked up some momentum there. Wish we would have done something with it, but that's just situational ball where, we have such good coaches here. Tom McMahon, Brant Boyer, and Pagano keep us on our p's and q's with every situation that pops up. That one popped up, we took advantage of it, it was a lot of fun. I'm still trying to catch my breath from it."
The snap was a high one that had him leaping to get it, but he still would have had time to get a punt off. Instead, he saw all of the open space in front of him and decided to tuck it and run. It paid off.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Run Pat run! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Colts?src=hash">#Colts</a> <a href="https://t.co/vyeQGhAQH1">https://t.co/vyeQGhAQH1</a></p>— Josh Wilson (@JoshWilsonSB) <a href="https://twitter.com/JoshWilsonSB/status/648532877626507264">September 28, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
What many wondered at the time was confirmed by McAfee: it was his call. But he showed off his speed - something that he hopes will improve his Madden speed rating:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">As sad as this is..On the flight home I wondered about this.."My Madden speed has 2 go up now right?" <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UncagedOct6th?src=hash">#UncagedOct6th</a> <a href="https://t.co/szNZwLP8Xb">https://t.co/szNZwLP8Xb</a></p>— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) <a href="https://twitter.com/PatMcAfeeShow/status/648623085772533760">September 28, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
In the midst of all of the Colts' struggles, McAfee has remained the one constant: he's still really good. He has punted 12 times through three games, averaging 47.9 yards per punt and pinning two inside the 20 yard line (with no touchbacks). Opponents have returned just four of his punts for a combined five yards. Plus, he is the kickoff man and almost always gets a touchback, and last year we saw that he can be a dangerous weapon with onside kicks (not to mention a perfect pass that was dropped last year). This year? We've seen he can be a dangerous weapon running the football, too. At this point, it's probably worth asking: what can't Pat McAfee do?